Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

Great balls of fire, the world has gone ya ya and we haven’t had a 4R since last July. Goodness. Well, we’ll fix that faster than a Costco shopper on a pallet of toilet paper.

Let’s jump into some Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources, shall we?

Photo Credit

M-m-m-my Corona(virus)

The other day I asked on Facebook if y’all wanted an article about Christians and the Coronavirus or something else. The overwhelming response was, “Something else! Anything else!” It seems many of us have reached out saturation point when it comes to hearing about the virus:
But there were a few hardy souls who wanted to hear a Christian perspective on how we and our churches should be reacting to all the ramifications of quarantines, social distancing, and church closures. So here are a few brief thoughts I had:

😷Wash your hands like your life depends on it, because it might. Instead of singing a song while you’re washing your hands, recite your memory verses. Or if you’re in a public restroom, share the gospel with the poor sap lady who’s washing her hands in the sink next to you. You know she’s going to be there a while- captive audience!

😷You shouldn’t have to be told to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. You should already be doing it. That is basic home training and basic loving and serving your neighbor.

😷Stay home if at all possible (I thought this was just called “being normal, but it turns out I’m an introvert. Or a hermit.). The sooner this thing stops spreading, the sooner we can all get back to church, work, and normal life (which, for me, is staying home if at all possible – it’s the circle of life. Or something.).

😷Christians are not hoarders. Christians are sharers. It’s one thing to lay in a reasonable supply. It’s a whole ‘nother animal to buy into the mindset that purchasing huge amounts of supplies will somehow magically ward off harm. It won’t. That’s superstition. It is failing to trust God to provide for you. Do business with God and discern whether or not you’ve been hoarding. If you have, repent, and make like Zacchaeus and give it away to people who need it. 

😷If you have a godly pastor, he has probably agonized over whether or not to cancel worship service or modify your church’s regular activities. It doesn’t matter what decision he makes, somebody is going to be unhappy about it and give him an earful. Don’t be that person. Give him some love and encouragement (from a safe social distance). He probably needs it now more than usual. And on that same note, whatever decision he makes, just roll with it for the time being, OK? We’re all playing this thing by ear right now, including your pastor. Don’t make me go all Hebrews 13:17 on y’all.

😷If you think nothing of skipping church for frivolous reasons, it’s hypocritical to complain now about your church’s services being canceled or modified for a much more important reason. (I’m not talking about First Amendment stuff here, I’m talking about your heart.)

😷”Online church” can be a blessing in an emergency situation like this, but this virus is going to pass and things are going to get back to normal. Do not fall into the fleshly mindset of, “Online church worked out just fine during the crisis, so I’ll just keep doing that instead of physically going back to church.” Uh uh. That’s spiritually lazy, and it’s sinfully forsaking the assembly. For Christians, Church is Not Optional, and that’s Non-Negotiable.

😷Have you ever stopped to think that this whole quarantine and limiting of meeting sizes thing could be God giving us a dry run of what it’s going to be like when real persecution comes, our church buildings are shuttered for good, and we have to meet in small groups in secret? That’s already real life for many of our brothers and sisters across the world. Maybe we should quit complaining and use this as a drill.

😷Where are Benny Hinn, Todd White, Bethel, and the rest of the faith healing crowd in all this? Time to put up or shut up.

😷Take reasonable precautions, but look for opportunities to help others and to share the gospel. Let your faith in God be greater than your fear of illness.

That’s pretty much my take on the whole shebang. If you haven’t had enough of all things Coronavirus, here are some more good resources:

Coronavirus Articles at The Cripplegate

Coronavirus and the Christian Faith on The Sword and the Trowel Podcast

The Coronavirus Pandemic – Bringing Hope to Those in Fear on Voice of Reason Radio

Q&A Corona Virus, Saturday Podcast, the Bible Project? at When We Understand the Text

Wisdom, Not Worry on Relatable with Allie Beth Stuckey

Kudos to one of my followers, Camille, who has been hard at work curating the best Coronavirus memes on the web, part 1 and part 2. (This is meant to be lighthearted and funny. If you only do serious, please don’t click.)

Get Your Worship On

This kind of goes along with my TBT article from yesterday, God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship. (Also meant to be lighthearted and funny, so please don’t click if that’s not your bag.). And some of you youngsters wonder why us old codgers like hymns so much!

The Real Deal, or the Fake Heal?

I was reading Acts 3, the story of Peter and John healing the lame beggar, and it struck me how starkly different this account is from the chicanery of New Apostolic Reformation “faith healers” today…

💥Peter and John didn’t have a “healing ministry”, they had a “preaching the gospel ministry.”

💥The lame beggar didn’t show up at “church” (i.e. the temple) to be healed, and didn’t seek Peter and John out for healing.

💥The lame beggar asked them for money rather than them asking him for money.

💥Peter and John had no silver, no gold, no Rolexes, no mansions, no private jets…

💥Peter said, “…what I have, I give to you.” The beggar was not asked to “sow a seed” into Peter and John’s ministry.

💥Faith isn’t mentioned once prior to the healing. Peter didn’t tell the beggar that if he just had enough faith, God would heal him.

💥No faith or money was required. The beggar played no part in “earning” his healing with his own good works. God healed him for His own glory.

💥The beggar was healed from a lifelong, obvious, eyewitnessed disability, and his healing was immediate and permanent.

💥Peter downplays both himself and the miracle and points to the Miracle Worker, Jesus.

💥Peter uses the opportunity of the gathered crowd to preach the gospel.

💥The gospel Peter preached was not, “Come to Jesus for miracles,” but “Jesus came to you, and you killed Him. Repent.”

💥Peter didn’t make crazy prophecies that didn’t come true. He pointed to the prophets of Scripture, and their prophecies fulfilled in Christ.

NAR preachers and faith healers want us to think they’re just like the apostles – even calling themselves “apostles” – but their words and actions don’t match up with what the apostles said and did.

They Aren’t Heretics Because You Disagree with Them

Of course not. So I’m not going to call Jared Wilson – who I have no reason to believe is anything other than a good, solid brother in Christ – a heretic because I disagree with the thrust of his article, They Aren’t Heretics Because You Disagree with Them. But, with genuine respect, I am going to call him “perhaps under educated” and “possibly somewhat lacking in experience” when it comes to the depth of the seemingly bottomless pit of false teaching and heresy out there.

Or perhaps our experiences are just different. Perhaps, in his world, there are throngs of people running around calling Presbyterians heretics because they believe in paedo-baptism. Or who cry “Heretic!” on anyone with a different eschatalogical view from their own.

That’s not the world I – and I would guess, most Christians – live in. In my world, the people who get called heretics and false teachers have generally earned the label by their biblically demonstrable false teaching and sinful behavior. There might be a few Baptists calling Presbyterians heretics and vice versa, but in my experience they are the rare exception, not the rule Jared’s article – putting the best possible construction on it – seems to be trying to address. And I get the feeling I swim in these particular waters much more frequently than he does.

I would certainly agree with Jared that the aforementioned types of issues are not matters of heresy, they are secondary issues on which Christians in good standing can disagree. But he lumps in some other issues (the role of women, extra-biblical revelation, yoking in ministry with “people who teach wacky things”) we cannot “agree to disagree” on because they are sin or false teaching that undermine the authority of Scripture, the sufficiency of Scripture, and the spiritual health of the church.

Jared has made the same categorization error regarding “secondary issues” that I believe Al Mohler made in his article on “theological triage” (which Jared links to in his article) – namely, that issues of sin (disobedience to clear Scripture) are not the same thing as secondary theological issues. Sin belongs all in its own category: sin. (I discussed this categorization error at length in my article Women Preaching: It’s Not a Secondary Doctrinal Issue.)

Jared uses no Scripture used to back up his opinions, making them no more valid than the “opinions” he critiques. He cites the Baptist Faith and Message (the statement of faith of the Southern Baptist Convention), but the BFM is not Scripture, and we are Christians first, Baptists second. We are Bible first, BFM second. So anywhere the BFM might contradict Scripture, go beyond Scripture, or not rise to the level of Scripture (and it does not rise to the level of Scripture regarding the role of women in the church, restricting only the office of pastor, but not the function of preaching), it is moot and useless.

Does Jared not recall that Scripture says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”? And that we are to “cleanse out the old leaven…and celebrate with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth“? Yet the thrust of his article seems to be akin to saying, “Don’t worry about that little misshapen mole on your arm. It’s just your arm having a ‘different view’ of skin. Only rampant, stage 4 cancer should be called cancer and treated.” That is not a biblical approach to false teaching.

How would Jared have advised Old Testament people who had a “different view” of worshiping household gods alongside God? Or offering strange fire in worship? Or syncretism and idol worship taking place inside the house of God? Or marrying and divorcing foreign wives? Or, in the New Testament, Ananias and Saphira? Or those who forbid marriage and certain foods? None of these are soteriological heresies, and yet look how strenuously God dealt with each situation. Most involved the death of the perpetrators.

As much as many Christians would like us all to get along and play nice with anyone and everyone who names the name of Christ, we cannot do that and still be faithful and obedient to the Word of God that tells us to contend for for the faith and silence false teachers. False teaching, even non-soteriological false teaching, is a big deal to God, and it should be to us, too.

False Doctrine, Movies, New Apostolic Reformation

Movie Tuesday: Miracles for Sale

PLEASE READ WARNING (BELOW) BEFORE VIEWING THE MOVIE.

“You are about to see a world where greed and deceit raise their ugly heads. Where lives have been needlessly lost. And where hope, the most precious gift of all, is peddled at a price. This is the wickedness in the world of faith healing.”

No, Derren Brown, the man behind the documentary Miracles for Sale, isn’t a watchblogger and he doesn’t head up a discernment ministry. He’s an atheist. And this project is proof in living color that – to our shame – lost people often see right through these types of blasphemies better than some so-called Christians do.

Several years ago, Derren Brown set out to expose the chicanery of faith healing. He chose to do so by taking an average man off the streets, teaching him the tricks of the trade, and passing him off as a legitimate faith healer, proving that God isn’t behind this movement – it’s all sleight of hand, fakery, and deceit.

Have you ever wondered how faith healers make it appear as though someone has actually been healed? Or how they can know personal things about someone in their audience whom they’ve never met? Miracles for Sale will show you.

WARNING: This movie contains a smattering of profanity (I tried counting. I believe it was about 5-6 words). It was made by an atheist and other non-Christians, and that’s how atheists and non-Christians talk sometimes (which, of course, is not to excuse this sin, merely to explain it). Additionally, since this movie was made by non-Christians, it does not contain a doctrinally sound theological response to the evil of faith healing. If these things would cause you to stumble or make you uncomfortable in any way, PLEASE DO NOT WATCH THIS VIDEO.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Narnia, Michelsen, Faith healing…)

 

Today’s edition of The Mailbag is a tad different in format. Usually, I answer one reader’s question in a long form article. Today, I’m addressing various questions from several readers in a “short answer” format.

Just a reminder- I changed my comments/e-mail/messages policy a few months ago, so I’m not responding individually to most e-mails and messages. Here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


Why are witchcraft and magic OK to most Christians in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia books, but not in secular books such as the Harry Potter books? Should my children be reading the Narnia books?

Obviously, I can’t answer for every individual Christian who finds Narnia OK but Harry Potter objectionable. Many perfectly godly Christians find both objectionable or neither objectionable. But generally, I think it’s the same reason most Christians assume Beth Moore, Andy Stanley, Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, Hillsong, etc., are biblically legit- most Christians aren’t very discerning. They naïvely trust that if a person has gained notoriety as a “Christian” celebrity and his stuff is sold in Christian bookstores, he’s teaching sound biblical doctrine.

I’m not saying that Lewis teaches unbiblical doctrine in the Narnia books (none sticks in my memory, but it’s been at least 8-10 years since I read them) I’m just saying if you put a Narnia book and a Harry Potter book side by side on the table in front of the average Christian she’s going to say, “Narnia- good. Harry Potter- bad.” and that’s going to be the extent of her thought process because she knows Lewis is a famous evangelical and J.K. Rowling is not.

Witchcraft and the occult are not things to be taken lightly. You should also know that there is credible evidence that C.S. Lewis held some very unbiblical beliefs, some of which, if true, would put him outside the camp of Christianity (particularly his rejection of penal substitutionary atonement). With regard to whether or not your children should read the Narnia books, my counsel would be to study what the Bible has to say about witchcraft, the occult, and the things Christians should focus their thoughts on, examine the books for yourself, pray for wisdom, and make what you determine to be the most God-honoring decision for your family. You may wish to get some guidance from your pastor or a mature Christian friend, too.


What are your thoughts on Johanna Michaelsen?

In the last “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag I said I had heard Johanna Michaelsen’s name but didn’t really know anything about her. Since that time a couple more people have asked me about her and I’ve found out a tad more about her (It’s not that there’s no information available, just that I haven’t had time to research her much.).

Johanna is recommended by my friend Amy Spreeman of Berean Research. Amy also serves on Johanna’s ministry advisory board. So it sounds like Johanna is someone worth looking into as a trustworthy resource. However, as Amy and Johanna (assuming she is like-minded) would probably agree, you cannot simply trust someone else’s endorsement. You must do the work of a good Berean and examine everything you take in against Scripture to discover whether it is doctrinally sound. I’m hoping you’ll find Johanna easily passes that test.

Not sure where to start? My article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own may help.


How do you reconcile passages such as Luke 2:22-35 (Simeon awaiting Jesus at the temple) with the principle that God only speaks to us through Scripture?

I would classify it in the same Hebrews 1:1-2 category as God speaking to Moses through the burning bush, or Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones, or Jeremiah’s prophecy at the potter’s house. God spoke to Simeon in the same Old Testament sense as any of the other Old Testament prophets He spoke to before Jesus came. (In fact, you might even say John the Baptist, who came after Simeon, was the last “Old Testament” prophet.)

It’s a little confusing to us because we read about Simeon in the New Testament after the intertestamental period, and after Jesus had actually been born, but at the time he spoke these words, he was effectively living in “Old Testament times.” (Which is why we also see in this passage that the reason Simeon encountered Jesus is that Mary and Joseph were presenting Him at the temple to “fulfill the law of Moses.”) Jesus had not yet fulfilled His earthly mission of living a sinless life, teaching, preaching and miracles, founding the church, dying on the cross, resurrecting from the grave, and ascending into Heaven. Until those things were accomplished, Simeon, Jesus, and all of the other Jews living at that time were still under the Mosaic (Old Testament) Covenant.

You might find my article Basic Training: The Bible is Sufficient to be helpful.


Do you believe that supernatural healing still occurs today?

Yes. I believe that God can heal miraculously, through doctors and medicine, and through the way He designed the body to heal itself when ill or injured.

What I do not believe in is “faith healing” as it is commonly understood and practiced today. I’ve never encountered a person who teaches and practices faith healing who also adheres to sound biblical doctrine, and I’ve never encountered a person who adheres to sound biblical doctrine who teaches and practices faith healing.

If what you’re really asking is whether I’m a continuationist or a cessationist, I’m a cessationist.


What are your thoughts on Francis Chan?

When Francis Chan first became popular, he had a reputation for being a doctrinally sound Reformed pastor and author. I never read any of his books or followed him closely, but I have godly friends who did.

In 2013 Francis spoke at International House of Prayer’s (IHOP) One Thing conference where he praised Mike Bickle, embraced him as a Christian brother, and tacitly accused discerning Christians who had wisely, and biblically, discouraged him from participating in the conference of dissension and division.

If you are unaware of the theological problems with IHOP, you should know that it (along with Bethel Church in Redding, California) is basically ground zero for the heretical New Apostolic Reformation movement. Chan spoke at One Thing again in 2015, demonstrating a shocking lack of awareness of the unbiblical theology of Catholicism, and called for evangelical unity with Catholics saying, “And I think it’s time for us to get beyond, okay, I’ll sing with them, okay, I’ll worship with them, y’know, okay, I’ll admit that they’re Christians, and go to a biblical stance which says I can’t live without them. I need them. They’re indispensable.”

I don’t know whether or not Chan’s early books and materials were doctrinally sound, but I would definitely not recommend him now. Someone who is a pastor has no excuse for being so undiscerning and ignorant of errant theology.


I am wondering if a Christian believes in speaking in tongues is for today would you recommend that people shouldn’t follow them just as you have recommended people not follow other people for different reasons?

I don’t usually proactively recommend – share their articles, quotes, etc. on social media or the blog, suggest people attend their churches or conferences, read their books, and so forth – continuationists who are otherwise doctrinally sound, but I don’t warn against them either. I just tend to be silent about them.

There are many false teachers I do warn against, and most of them are continuationists, but continuationism is not the central reason I warn against them. When I warn against a teacher, it is because he or she is teaching demonstrably false doctrine and/or walking in unrepentant sin.

My article Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own explains the criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a particular teacher.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.